World Cup winner tips Saints star Harrison to impress on tour
Teimana Harrison's remarkable season continued on Sunday as he pulled on an England shirt for the very first time, and World Cup winner Lewis Moody believes that will not be the only chance that comes his way this summer.
The 23-year-old back row forward was one of five Saints players involved in England’s 27-13 friendly victory over Wales, and while it was centre Luther Burrell who stole the headlines with a try-scoring return to international rugby, Harrison also staked his claim for more opportunities.
England now travel to World Cup finalists Australia for a three-Test series, having been thrashed 33-13 by the Wallabies on home soil just eight months ago at the Rugby World Cup.
And Saints’ players’ and supporters’ player of the year Harrison will be on the flight down under, with head coach Eddie Jones already professing his liking for the 23-year-old ‘street fighter’ ahead of the Wales clash at Twickenham.
Jones will likely stick with the tried-and-tested back-row duo of Chris Robshaw and James Haskell in Australia, though Moody admits that he clearly is not afraid to shake things up – and on the hard and fast pitches of Australia, anything is possible.
“I was surprised that Teimana was included but I like the way that Eddie Jones goes about his business,” said Moody, the England back row legend. “If he believes they are ready then they are ready.
“Maro Itoje was drip fed into the team during that Six Nations and Teimana will take a lot of confidence from his first cap against Wales into the opportunity of playing on a tour.
“I love the opportunities that Jones affords people and for Harrison this is a great one for him.
“Haskell and Robshaw are the two 6.5s, and they had those joke t-shirts made for the Grand Slam – they are real work horses who fit nicely with Billy Vunipola.
“But going forward, I am sure Jones with guys like [Jack] Clifford and Harrison and maybe [Matt] Kvesic is looking for the future.
“Without being disrespectful to Robshaw and Haskell, because they have been absolutely brilliant in the last year and the way they have bounced back, both of them have been written off at various times.
“But realistically I am not sure if they will be starting the next World Cup. They will both be mid-30s by then so will Jones be looking at the future? Time will tell.”
Eight players that started the ill-fated World Cup clash against Australia will receive a chance to redeem themselves as part of the 32-man squad.
But while Moody believes England are taking great strides under Jones’ stewardship, he is expecting the Wallabies to come out on top.
“In terms of the progression – Jones has inherited a strong squad and is reaping the rewards of Lancaster’s hard work and correcting a couple of errors here and there,” Moody added. “I can see them going full of confidence and ready to challenge.
“The Australia game from the World Cup will be in a huge majority of the England players’ minds.
“They play a very intelligent game in Australia – maybe not as physical as the other southern hemisphere teams – but they have so many clever rugby players.
“It is very hard to win there – as the stats prove. I was lucky enough to be part of the last team to win there back in 2010, as were the likes of Dan Cole and Ben Youngs and Courtney Lawes so that will be invaluable experience to have in the squad.
“Australia generally win the first game, historically that is the case and we could bounce back in the second. But I can see Australia winning the series 2-1.”
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